An occasion to test nerves and character
February 26, 2011
February 27, Bangalore
Start time 14.30 (0900 GMT)
The build-up and hype ahead of this match has been huge and we are still barely into the second week of the World Cup. This was always going to be one of the marquee clashes of the tournament, and even though it has been moved away from Eden Gardens to the slightly less daunting Chinnaswamy Stadium, that hasn't dulled the anticipation. You only need to see the unfortunate pictures from outside the ground during the week, as locals rushed for tickets, to know how desperate they are to watch their team.
However, there are two sides taking part and England are insisting they can use the expectation being piled on to the hosts in their favour. From a purely cricket view, the stadium switch won't have disappointed Andrew Strauss's team because, both on and off the field in Bangalore, conditions will be slightly less hostile than could have been the case in Kolkata.
Yet England's record against India in their own backyard makes for grim reading. They have won one of their last 13 completed ODIs in the country, going back to the 5-1 drubbing in 2006 and the 5-0 scoreline in 2008, before the series was cancelled due to the Mumbai bombings. In between they were also thrashed at the 2006 Champions Trophy. On one hand the odds say they are due a win, but on the other the statistics make damning reading.
If they want to spoil India's World Cup party the key will be containing the power-packed top order. Virender Sehwag set down the gauntlet with 175 against Bangaldesh and was backed up by Virat Kohli's fine hundred. Sachin Tendulkar was cut short on 25, while Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni didn't even need to bat. It's a daunting prospect, but England have shown they can rise for the big occasion. Whatever happens, let's hope it matches the expectation.
(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
Ahead of India matches, it's the likes of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh who take most of the headlines, but you ignore Gautam Gambhir at your peril. He has become a supremely consistent batsman across all formats and is the perfect foil to his top-order team-mates. He started with a neat run-a-ball 39 against Bangladesh and England will have to ensure they give him as much focus as the mega-star names around him. A one-day average of 34 against England, six runs below his career level, is something he'll want to correct, but the visiting bowlers will want to increase that daylight.
None of England's quicks can be pleased with their efforts against Netherlands, but there were some encouraging signs from Stuart Broad in his first international since the second Ashes Test. Having warmed up with 10 wickets in two games against Canada and Pakistan, he bowled with decent pace against the Dutch and found bounce from a flat Nagpur surface. However, he sometimes got carried away with banging the ball in and forgot to aim at the stumps. His yorker can be effective (he was denied such a wicket when Paul Collingwood forgot to walk inside the circle) and against top-quality batsmen he'll have to be ready to adjust his game plans.
Talking of the quick bowlers, one of the reasons the venue switch isn't all bad news is the bounce that could be on offer. It won't be flying through at shoulder height, but the quick bowlers are likely to find some encouragement especially after the recent heavy rain in the city. One-day cricket is at its best with an even contest between bat and ball.
Virender Sehwag was struck in the ribs during a net session but is expected to be fine for the match and India have no reason to tinker with the top order. The big question mark comes with Sreesanth, who had a nightmare against Bangladesh when his five overs went for 53. India got away with it that day, but can't afford to carry a bowler in every match. However, Ashish Nehra is not yet at full fitness so India will have to decide whether to stick with Sreesanth or play an extra spinner.
India (possible) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Sreesanth/Piyush Chawla, 11 Munaf Patel.
Broad has been suffering from an upset stomach but is expected to be fit and England's main decision is whether to strength their spin-bowling with a recall for Michael Yardy. The current plan is to get 10 overs from Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen but that's a huge risk against India. The problem is, though, that the man most likely to make way for Yardy would be Ravi Bopara, who helped see the team home against Netherlands.
England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson
Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.
Pitch and conditions
There was torrential rain in Bangalore on Friday afternoon which left large puddles on the outfield. The weather has remained cool and cloudy over the weekend, and there is a chance of more showers, which will make the toss important with the possible intervention of Duckworth-Lewis. The damp weather may work against Yardy, but the pitch turned square in the warm-up matches.
Stats and trivia
- Despite all the talk about Sehwag, his average against England in India is the lowest of the current top six - 37.70 - but the strike-rate is 100.
- Sreesanth's performance against Bangladesh was horrid, but he has 10 wickets at 16 each against England in India.
- Unsurprisingly, Pietersen is England's best batsman in India with an average of 56.08 from 14 matches and the lone century among the team's current top order
- India and England have met three times in Bangalore and it's the visitors who actually lead the head-to-head 2-1, although the wins did come back in 1985 and 1993.
"I don't think it's a case of reinventing the wheel, we just need to play good, smart cricket. In some ways there's more pressure on India than us in this game."
Andrew Strauss turns to the psychological battle as he aims to turn around England's poor record in India.
MS Dhoni chooses to play it safe.